The Marketer’s Go-To Guide for Annual Reporting

The Marketer’s Go-To Guide for Annual Reporting

Annual reporting is typically a dreaded task. No one likes
sorting through analytics programs, digging for abstract data to
try to come to concrete conclusions, especially if there is a lot
on the line depending on what those reports say.

At
SEMrush
, we found that each individual annual report takes an
average of five hours to complete, and the reports may vary in
accuracy depending on what they’re trying to assess. This can be
stressful, and it’s time spent doing repetitive work that could
be used to tackle other, more productive projects.

With the right tools and processes in place, however, you can
make this dreaded task a lot more pain-free and much more
efficient. In this post, we’re going to look at how to quickly
create accurate annual reports that will wow your team, your boss,
and your clients.

Why you need annual reporting

Annual reporting will give you a big-picture look at what
happened throughout the year on your marketing campaigns, but it
will be able to do so accurately thanks to all the details and
carefully-tracked metrics. They’ll help you see where you stand
in the progress towards your goals.

These reports will give you insight so that you can go into the
new year refreshed, with some new strategies, and sure that
you’re on the best path possible based on all the information at
hand.

For team members or agencies who are showing their boss or
clients what they accomplished, this will give you something you
can hold up to show them what they’re paying you for, making your
value more clear. That being said, annual reports are important
even just for internal teams, as it keeps all team members on the
same page.

How to create accurate annual marketing reports quickly

All marketing teams understand the importance of annual
reporting, and now we’re going to show you step by step how to
create accurate reports quickly for your marketing team.

Create distinct reports for each marketing segment

Most businesses – even really small ones – will have
multiple marketing sectors, engaging in strategies in fields like
SEO, PPC campaigns, social media marketing, and content
marketing.

Ideally, each of these sectors should have their own reports or
their own distinct, separate sections within the report. Each
specialty, after all, will have their own goals, their own KPIs,
and their own initiatives. This separation makes it easier to
assess what’s working in each so you can evaluate progress and
decide if something needs to be changed.

Choose KPIs up front

Your key performance indicators (KPIs) should be specific and
tied to your goals. They’ll tell you what you’re measuring and
why ensuring that you compile the data that you need the first time
in addition to hopefully optimizing for those KPIs throughout the
year.

Make sure that you’re measuring concrete numbers. Trying to
evaluate social ROI or brand awareness, for example, is complicated
and inaccurate; looking at the number of mentions and clicks to
your site, however, are exact and much more helpful.

While KPIs can vary from business to business and what your
specific goals are, there are a few KPIs that you should be looking
for in each key marketing sector.

SEO reports should be measuring:

  • Position tracking
  • Organic keyword ranking
  • Site traffic
  • Website issues, including technical errors that can be found
    through a site audit
  • Number of backlinks
  • Keywords targeted

Annual reporting image 1

SEMrush Site Audit

PPC campaign reports should focus on:

  • Cost-per-click (CPC)
  • Conversion rate
  • Click-through-rate
  • Total ad spend
  • Number of conversions
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS)
  • Keywords that  yield the best results
  • Position tracking for search ads

Social media marketing reports should be measuring:

  • Actions like clicks to a site, or calls or messages to a
    brand
  • Purchases made on-app
  • Content saved by users
  • Follower growth
  • Engagement rate
  • Impressions (but mostly to ensure that your content is on
    target)
  • Audience overview and demographic information

Annual reporting image 2

SEMrush Social Media Tool

Content marketing annual reports need to look at:

  • Keyword ranking
  • Keywords that bring the most traffic to the site
  • Source traffic
  • Bounce rate
  • Average time spent on the page
  • Number of backlinks and sources they’re coming from

Use software to track the data

Ideally, you’ll be using software throughout the year to track
your marketing progress. Many businesses, for example, often use
Google
Analytics
to track site traffic and performance, and native
tools like Facebook’s
Insights
to track social growth.

There are tools that you can use, however, that can give you
more detail quickly, and can look at multiple areas of marketing
all at once.
SEMrush
is one of those tools, and can quickly compile reports
on everything from your social growth to your keyword position
tracking overtime to your backlink profile.

Annual reporting image 3

Use tools like SEMrush
My Reports
to quickly create and download reports in every area
of your marketing. These reports will even come with some visuals
generated for you automatically, which you can use in your annual
report. Read the full guide
here
.

Compile the data

You’ve got the data, and now it’s time to compile it. This
is often the part of the process that most people dread, trying to
assess how to break down the masses of numbers into something
coherent.

Start by breaking the data down into sections. Then, once you do
this, look for patterns in how the metrics are interacting. Look
for overall trends in growth to assess impact.

At this stage, look for indications of success in each marketing
sector and try to answer the question “why.” If your traffic to
your blog increased, that’s good, but it’s not all you need to
know. Is the source of the traffic from only a few select keywords,
meaning that 90% of your posts aren’t doing you any favors? Or is
the surge of traffic coming from a PPC campaign? The devil is in
the details here, so look for correlations.

Once you do this, then you can start to piece it together; maybe
that active social feed really did help your content marketing,
after all.

Once you’ve compiled the data, create an overview that
summarizes what you’ve learned, taking all those tiny details and
listing them clearly and then adding a general summary to the front
of the report so people know what to expect going in.

Make plans for 2019

After assessing the current year’s progress, most annual
reports will benefit from some problem-solving and strategic
planning.

Propose a plan for the following year for each individual
sector. Even if this is just a quick one-page proposal discussing
how you’ll take the information from the report and adjust the
following year’s strategies accordingly, this can go a long
way.

Note whether you’re suggesting to switch up the strategy, stay
the course, or toss it out altogether. Explain why, and back it up
by referring back to your data. Hard numbers and stats can’t be
ignored.

Annual reporting image 4

SEMrush My Reports

Annual report creation best practices

As you’re moving through the steps above, keep in mind that
there are certain things you can do that will significantly improve
your ability to create accurate reports that will appeal to
everyone on your team while making your life a little easier.

These are the best practices you need to keep in mind when
creating your annual reports:

  • Include visuals, like charts and numbers.
    Graphs and charts make it easy to scan the report at a glance, and
    those visual aids can be particularly powerful. If you want to
    really show the impact your campaigns have made, showing a great
    big jump on a graph helps you get your point across.
  • Give credit to team members and leadership.
    Everyone likes a pat on the back, and this is a good way to give
    credit where it’s due and show appreciation for your team. Take
    the time in the report to explain the initiatives taken by your
    team that led to the results you’re seeing now.
  • Get started early. Even with great reporting
    tools, we can’t stress this enough. You need to ensure that your
    software has time to collect the data and that you aren’t left
    scrambling at the last minute to compile and interpret it. End of
    year is a crazy time for everyone, so get a jump start.
  • Include year-to-year reporting. If you want to
    really track progress and see the effectiveness of new strategies,
    include a year-to-year reporting section. This will show not just
    how well your campaigns worked this year, but how much growth
    you’ve seen. Month-to-month reporting is also helpful, especially
    if growth is exponential.

What the experts say

We know that reporting is something that can be overwhelming and
intimidating, so we reached out to experts in our network and asked
for their best tips. Here’s what they had to say.

The main ingredients of good reporting

There is a lot to consider when creating annual reports, so we
asked two experts – Laura Hampton from Impression and Simon
Poulton from Wpromote about
the main ingredients in good reporting.

Here’s what Laura had to say:

“Reporting is all about showing your clients / stakeholders
the value of the work you’ve put in. So the main ingredient of
good reporting is a solid understanding of KPIs and how those fit
into the wider stakeholder goals. For example, you might know your
aim is to increase traffic but if you also know that your
stakeholder is being tasked themselves to increase revenue of a
particular product range, you can ensure your gains fit in with
their aspirations.

One of the first things we do when onboarding a new client –
whether that’s SEO, PR, PPC or a combination – is to identify
tangible, measurable goals that tie into stakeholder strategies and
overall goals.

It’s then essential to ensure every KPIs is measurable and
tracked correctly. Sometimes, this is as straightforward as using
Google Analytics to monitor traffic. Sometimes, it’s using tools
like SEMRush to monitor SERP visibility. Sometimes, it’s more
difficult, such as measuring the brand awareness impact of PR
activity. Whatever it is, it’s important the metric be clearly
defined and agreed between all parties and that those metrics are
included in every report.”

Simon’s advice was similar, focusing on those key metrics
early on:

“Before we think about reporting & data visualization, we
need to begin by developing a framework for metrics and
understanding the scope at which they exist. All metrics exist on a
macro to micro scale, and all too often we fall into simply
reporting metrics directly from an analytics or ads platform
without thinking about their impact. These metrics often vary
dramatically in scope and you’ll frequently see things like
“Sessions” combined with “Avg. Time on Page” – but this
isn’t helpful as these don’t exist on the same scope plane.
It’s important to ask yourself several critical questions for
each metric you’re planning to report on, such as, what can I
actually do with this information? And what changes will we
recommend making if this metric fluctuates up or down?

“As you begin asking these critical question, start developing
a framework for where metrics exist (or don’t exist) across the
granularity spectrum, and ensure your visualizations follow this
framework. Every report should be able to answer a specific
question that can enable a decision.”

The best method of formatting

Formatting is an essential part of reporting, so Laura Hampton
weighed in on her preferred method of formatting for annual
reports:

“We use Google Data Studio for our reports. The platform is
highly customisable which means we’ve been able to develop well
branded reports that facilitate free narrative as well as templated
elements that pull in from external feeds like Google Analytics,
AdWords, Supermetrics and STAT.

“Of course, it’s not just about monthly reporting –
regular communications with our clients and clearly documented
strategies mean everyone is on the same page at all time and we are
always tracking results and evolving our strategies to deliver the
best results.”

The key metrics to highlight

Our other experts have weighed in on the importance of focusing
on the right metrics, and Scott Langdon from Higher Visibility shared
his thoughts on how to choose the right key metrics.

Here’s what he had to say:

“As an Agency, we like to focus on what the clients should
truly care about at the end of the day, and that is their revenue.
We put greater emphasis on highlighting lead and sales growth
versus search rankings improvement. You would think that would have
been the focus for clients all along, but it really hasn’t. There
are still plenty of clients that care about metrics such as wanting
to rank #1 for a particular keyword. When looking at the data, that
keyword might not really be leading to quality sales.”

Conclusion

Annual reports are so important. It’s essential to take some
time at the end of every year to assess what’s worked well for
you, what hasn’t, and the results and growth that you’ve seen
overall. It will be essential to helping you evaluate your current
strategies and decide how to move forward in the next year so as to
best accomplish all your marketing goals.

For maximum results, keep these last few tips in mind when
creating your annual reports:

  • Remember that annual reports are all about getting a big
    picture view by looking at all the details that fell into
    place.
  • Avoid trying to just cram everything into one disorganized
    report, and sort everything into sections.
  • That being said, look at how different areas of marketing
    interact. Many businesses have integrated content marketing and
    social media marketing, for example; assess how the two are
    affecting each other.

Try to build, manage and share custom-made reports with

SEMrush.

Guest author: Tanya Vasileva is a Product
Marketing Manager at SEMrush —
a leading digital marketing toolkit for SEO, PPC SMM and content
marketing professionals worldwide.  She writes about
marketing, analyzes SEMrush data and interested in marketing
strategy. 

The post The Marketer’s
Go-To Guide for Annual Reporting
appeared first on Jeffbullas’s Blog.

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The Marketer’s Go-To Guide for Annual Reporting